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India's First 3-D Animation is an Eco-Friendly Lion King, On Oscar Shortlist

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On the heels of modest success of animation films like "Hanuman" and "Roadside Romeo," India has produced its first 3-D stereoscopic animation feature, which bodes to be India's "Lion King" of animation films. Produced and created by Krayon Pictures, the movie is directed by Nikhil Advani of "Patiala House" and "Chandni Chowk to China."

The music is composed by the well-known trio of Shankar Ehsaan Loy. The English adaptation features voices by Jason Alexander, Brad Garrett, Vanessa Williams, Jane Lynch, Christopher Lloyd and Cary Elwes.

Historic US Release

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Released in Hindi during the Diwali festival, this family film received glowing praise from critics in India. Now, it stands to make history with an international release on Dec 7th in the US. According to the tagline, it is "ideal for ages 0 to 100, empowering yet fun-filled story of five animals who journey from Mumbai to Delhi to protect their right to safe homes."

The inhabitants of a national park - birds frolicking merrily, animals bouncing with spirit, Sultan and his cub Yuvi playing tackle - are rudely intruded on by the thunder of man and his roaring machines. The animals are forced to take a stand and must petition the government for their preservation.

A Compelling Story

The story is indeed compelling, with good animations, dialogues and nicely crafted song and dance numbers. Both music and dialogues rely on bilingual and bicultural tropes to convey the message of the film - humans have become the cruelest animals, and must learn to share the planet with other animals - before the world turns too "hot, flat and crowded".

The main character of the film, a parrot, named Alex, can save the jungle and the animals from total annihilation. The parrot is cosmopolitan - speaks Hindi, English, and German - and stands the best chance of speaking with the humans in the Indian parliament cloistered in the Delhi metropolis. He can lip sync Bollywood songs like a real movie star.

To Survive, The Animals Take A Risk

The dangers of walking willy-nilly into a major city are instinctively clear to jungle animals. Yet, this is a trip they must undertake if they have any chance of survival. The safari consisting of a cub leopard, his mother, a monkey, a bear and a parrot make their way through the continent first by train and then by foot. The film chronicles the story of their journey with drama and levity that is thoroughly enjoyable.

The chemistry between the animals works really well. The tension between Alex, the polyglot parrot, and the militant monkey, who wants to create war with the humans is memorable. The relationship between Sultan, Yuvi and mother Begum is reminiscent of Mufasa, Simba and Surabi from the classic "Lion King."

Not surprisingly, Delhi Safari, a Bollywood rarity, has been shortlisted for the 85th Academy Awards in the animation category. It's a must watch for all kids and families.

Dinesh Sharma is the author of 'Barack Obama in Hawaii and Indonesia: The Making of a Global President' which was rated as the Top 10 Black history books for 2012. His next book on President Obama, 'Crossroads of Leadership: Globalization and American Exceptionalism in the Obama Presidency' is due to be published with Routledge Press. Read more stories by Dinesh Sharma.

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